ArboForm is a ‘sustainable’ plastic type material invented by a couple of German dudes, Juergen Pfitzer and Helmut Naegele, which is 100% renewable, totally biodegradable (you can even burn it like wood) and can be formed into just about any shape you need.
The material is made from lignin, a component of wood and a by-product of the paper making process. Apparently the paper industry throws away around 50 million tonnes of lignin every year, which makes it very attractive as a low cost plastic replacement.
Mix Lignin with other compounds such as resins and flax, and you can make things like speakers, musical instruments and simple household products, as well as car interior bits. It’s also probably on its way to making its creators triple billionaires along the lines of the Swedish Tetra-Pak family. More info here.
The raw material is lignin, which is second only to cellulose as the most abundant natural polymer. Lignin is a by-product of the pulp industry and the volume arising worldwide is about 50 million tonnes per year. Mixing lignin with natural fibres (flax, hemp or other fibre plants) and some natural additive produces a fibre composite that can be processed at raised temperatures and, just like a synthetic thermoplastic material, can be made into mouldings, plates or slabs on conventional plastics processing machines. So this allows products such as computer, television or mobile phone casings to be made from “wood”.